When your loved one has facial scarring, their entire outlook on life will change.
To most, an injury that results in a facial scarring is unimaginable. Every story is different; every story is special. Yet most stories start the same.
The day of an accident starts out like any other day. You may wake up, head to school or work, go to a play date or grocery store, and think about the upcoming week. By the end of the day, all future plans are put on hold, and you or a loved one may be a victim of an accident that results in facial scarring.
The most common type of accidents that results in facial scarring are dog bites and burns. Dog bite and burn injuries combined affect almost 5 million people every year. Children and adults are affected by dog bites and burn injuries, but unfortunately, children may get the brunt of the tragedy.
While dog bites injure 4.5 million Americans every year, only one out of five dog bites are serious enough to require medical attention; 900,000 dog bite victims are seen at emergency rooms every year, including our own St. Louis hospitals. The St. Louis County Department of Health reports over one thousand dog bites every year.
For children (and adults that are low to the ground), dogs commonly attack the head and neck, leaving loved ones with a traumatic recovery and a changed appearance. Over 31,000 dog bite victims undergo reconstructive or cosmetic surgeries to eliminate scarring and damage after a dog bite, but the physical and emotional scar will always be there to remind them and their loved ones of that perfect-turned-paralyzing day.
Burn injuries are less common than dog bites but can injure victims more seriously and quickly. Every year, half a million American receive medical treatment for burn injuries. Over 45,000 will remain hospitalized for recovery and 25,000 will be carefully transported to renowned, certified burn centers in America. Just a few years ago, St. Louis Mercy Hospital opened their 12-bed unit burn center, the only one in the state of Missouri. The Burn Center welcomes burn patients—adults and children—from around the state.
Many St. Louis residents imagine burn injuries resulting in a residential fire—and they often occur in people’s home. In fact, over 13,000 Americans were injured in household fires within the last few years. The kitchen is the most common place for fires to occur—there may be defective kitchen appliances or cooking may go awry. Boiling water and steam are as hot as fires and can do serious damage.
However, there are other situations where severe burns and facial scarring occur. In 2011, 219,000 vehicles were caught on fire. According to the US Fire Administration, 35.4% of car fires were unintentional and 22.5% of accidents were caused by equipment failure. In these cases, burn victims may have been eligible for compensation.
Motor vehicles contain flammable materials—gas and oil run through your car and the pieces can quickly catch on fire. When a car crash happens, the friction and heat can create a fire to start.
Chemical exposure accounts for a small number of burn injury and facial scarring but can happen to almost anyone that uses fertilizer and household cleaning products. However, almost half of chemical burns are reported at the workplace. Many products that are used routinely can be extremely dangerous, especially to the face. Senses—including eyes and smell—can be destroyed after chemical exposure.
All of these types of accidents—dog bites, household fires, car and chemical burns—can happen when you least expect them. It can only take a couple seconds to completely change your life. A burning fire, dangerous dog, and routine product can leave facial scarring that may feel like it destroyed a person’s life.
At Finney Law Office, LLC, though, we believe our clients and all others with facial scarring are just starting another chapter in their life.
The Long Recovery and Start of New Life
The recovery from a burn or dog bite accident is extensive and time-consuming. Loved ones can be cooped in a hospital for weeks and months for their safety, health, and intense recovery process. Burn victims typically undergo a series of surgeries, laser treatments, physical therapy, physiotherapy, and more, depending on where the burns are located. Dog bites can have similar treatments too.
Healing from a burn injury is extensive. Second-degree burns injure all of upper layers of the skin. Depending on the severity of the second-degree burn, the wound may blister and be extremely painful or be dry and dull of sensation. Second-degree burns can require excision and skin grafts to fully heal.
A third-degree burn can be terrifying because you may not feel any pain at all. The skin will be completely destroyed—from the top layer of skin to the muscle— and can appear dry, leathery, and black or white. Third-degree burns often lead to excision, skin grafts, and surgeries.
After months and years of hospitalization (and even during treatment), a victim’s lifestyle will change. There may be limitations to physical abilities, loss of independence, difficulty returning to school, work, and everyday life, stress on intimate relationships, and extensive medical and financial needs. (Filing for a personal injury claim after a burn or dog bite accident can provide you with the medical and financial stability you need.)
These changes in lifestyles can leave your loved one feeling distraught and alone. Worrying about their appearance and remembering the time spent in the hospital can be hard, especially when they are getting accustomed to their new lifestyle. Not every neighbor or passerby will take their harsh journey to heart—stares, name-calling, and blunt questions are also common after facial scarring.
Facial scarring can take up to two years to mature and finish healing. During this time, it is important that burn or dog bite victims remember that there is a community and different support systems to help guide them through this process.
Most importantly, it is essential to remember that facial scarring does not define you or your loved one. Facial scarring tells a story of journey of loss, revitalization, and change. To find a support system, give support to other victims, or find ways to stay true to yourself after an accident, you can look at these national and local organizations:
- The Phoenix Society: nonprofit for burn survivors
- The Burns Recovered Support Group: nonprofit in assistance to members of St. John’s Mercy Medical Center
- Spiegal Burn Foundation: nonprofit that provides advocacy support to burn victims and families
- DogGoneSafe: nonprofit dedicated to dog bite prevention and dog bite support
People with facial scars aren’t always treated as the survivors and warriors that they are, and it is common for burn injury and dog bite victims to feel disheartened and unworthy in the events immediately after an accident. However, they have a life that is worth living for, and we hope to provide our clients with the help that they deserve to move forward with their lives.
At Finney Law Office, LLC, find our clients extraordinarily strong, resilient, and worth fighting for. If you’ve been a victim of a dog bite or burn accident, call us and let us help you through your recovery process.